Are the Cardinals making the division-leading Brewers nervous?

The Cardinals have cut the Brewers' division lead in half in 6 weeks' time. Should Milwaukee start getting nervous?
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers
St. Louis Cardinals v Milwaukee Brewers / Stacy Revere/GettyImages
facebooktwitterreddit

Preseason projections for the National League Central envisioned a collection of middling teams fighting for the division crown each finishing with somewhere between 80 and 86 wins. Even the most optimistic of systems didn't peg a single NL Central team for greater than 90 wins this year.

The opposite has proven to be true. The Milwaukee Brewers, rather than finishing third with a record below .500 according to FanGraphs and PECOTA from the beginning of the season, are in position to win the division for the second straight year and the third time in four years. Despite trading away Corbin Burnes, losing Brandon Woodruff to a season-ending injury, and seeing their long-time manager depart for a division rival, the Brewers have been able to maintain their control of the National League Central.

The unexpected success of the Brewers paired with the relative malaise of the remaining teams in the National League Central gave Milwaukee a huge lead in the division early on, especially against the St. Louis Cardinals. On May 12th, the day the Cardinals started their ridiculous stretch of baseball, the Brewers held a 9-game advantage over the Redbirds.

Since then, the Cardinals have nearly cut the division lead in half, and they have catapulted themselves to second in the division. Now, the Cardinals sit at 40-37 while the Brewers are 46-33 with a 5-game cushion.

Milwaukee Brewers beat writer Adam McCalvy of MLB.com appeared as a guest on 620 WTMJ to discuss Milwaukee's underdog mentality. The radio show had been discussing how comfortable the Brewers are at the top of the division. They have embraced the "underdog" mentality this year.

"At some point you become the favorites. You get past the midpoint of the season and you've been in first place all year, I think teams will look at you like "This is who we're gunning for." The Brewers are also defending division champions. I think they're looking to extend this "Average Joes" mentality."

Adam McCalvy

While the Brewers were not supposed to be this good, the fact that they've owned the division these last 3 years shows that they are indeed the current top dog in the division. This doesn't mean they shouldn't be scared of those beneath them, though.

The Cardinals are gaining ground quickly on the Brewers; the Milwaukee may have the lead this year (6-1) in the head-to-head matchup, but the two will face off 6 more times this year, and the Cardinals are already a much different team than they were 6 weeks ago.

Brewers fans should be wary of the rising Cardinals!

manual